Four Poems
This Wall

I have looked at this wall
for months, bricks
faded, chipped, edge of roof

fixed with icicles
like teeth,
arch of window

above my own with
curtain, blistered
white paint, trim of

grey blue. Specific limit—
of what? A shell
of house, no one’s home,

wherein emptiness
feels damp and tenuous
under the leaky roof.

Careless of what else,
wall so close,

present to my own—
can push
with eye, thinking

where one can’t go,
those crushed
to blackness, despair.

This comfortable
acceptance of death
is no place

wall can echo,
either real or unreal.
They stand between
an inside and out.
So in school years ago
I saw Wall, heard

Wall speak, “Thus have I,
Wall, my part discharged so;
And, being done,

thus Wall away doth go …”
Clouds above, patch of shifting
blue sky. Faint sun.



Self-shrinking focus
mode of deployment
of people met in casual
engagement, social—

Not the man I am
or even was, have constructed
some pattern, place
will be as all.

Bored, shrink into 
isolated fading
out of gross, comfortable
contact. Hence out to lunch.


Heaven Knows

Seemingly never until one’s dead
is there possible measure—

but of what then or what for
other than the same plagues attended

one living with misunderstanding
and wanted a compromise as pledge

one could care for any of them,
heaven knows, if that’s where one goes.


For the New Year

Rid forever of them and us,
the ridiculous small places
of patient hates, the meager

agreement of unequal peoples
all at last subject to
hunger, despair, a common death.

Robert Creeley (1926–2005) was one of the great poets of the twentieth century. Caves (Paradigm Press) was published in early 2005 in a limited edition. Other works include Earth, a collection of his last poems which was published by the University of California postmortem, as well as an essay Whitman in Age. In 2005, Conjunctions published memorial tributes to Creeley by nearly one hundred fellow writers in its online edition.